In 20 days, Highlands County students will be expected to return to classes. Students like myself, children of your own, and your family members will be expected to receive classroom instruction in the midst of a global pandemic. Teachers will be forced to stand in a crowded classroom with four different groups of students each day and risk contracting an unpredictable virus.
I will walk with 2,000 other students at Sebring High School to class, without knowing if the person next to me may be infected.
According to our governor and our president, there is nothing to fear. We have nothing to fear of hundreds of kids gathering and not even requiring them to wear masks. The temperature checks will catch every possibly infected kid, despite the fact that not all infected persons run a fever. A student who has a fever at noon can easily be taken to quarantine along with 50 other students that said student has interacted with, including every teacher. There is nothing to worry about a virus with a 3% to 5% fatality rate. There is nothing to fear ... until one infected student shows up.
That one student infects 10, with each of those 10 infecting another 10. Now you have 101 students infected. But it is all right ... just a 3% to 5% fatality rate. Just three students who lose their lives ... three students who were looking to live to adulthood, have a career, a family, everything that life has to offer. Three students who leave behind family members and countless friends.
Out of those 101 students, how many go to the hospital? How many go to the hospital to make their families pay the sky high hospital bills and to suffer as the virus runs its course?
Even with this tragedy, this is just the tip of the iceberg. That is only if health officials are able to contact every single person that the infected student had contact with over the course of two days. Because all it takes is one student to slip under the radar to infect ten new students.
Call me a fear-monger, a liberal sheep, a brainwashed kid who knows nothing about what I am talking about. To that, I say that I am the one who is going to sit in those classrooms in an underfunded school district that cannot afford every potential barrier to the virus. It is students like me that will gather in large crowds and in classrooms with too many students, not President Trump or Governor Desantis. Teachers, regardless of health and age, will be the ones teaching classes to at least 80 different students each day. It will not be Betsy Devos, it will not be the ones who still believe that this virus is real, nor will it be the Fox News pundits who call it a media virus.
Trust me, I am desperate to get back into a safe learning environment. I am an IB student at Sebring High School who had a 4.6 gpa last year, taking Advanced Placement, Dual Enrollment, and IB classes. I play three varsity sports and I am one of the captains of the Cross Country team. My entire life has been dedicated to my education and school sports. I am forced to return to classroom instruction because IB classes will not be offered through virtual learning. So, I have a lot to lose if the return to classrooms is delayed. However, I have a lot more to lose if I come into contact with just one infected student. All it takes is one.
Miguel Arceo is a student athlete at Sebring High School.